Wednesday, July 11, 2007

To Love God More

I'm not sure what I want to write; I just know that I want to write something.
Writing is a way of processing for me, and so this post is mostly for myself. If any reader wants to read on, great. Hopefully, there'll be something encouraging for you, too.

I just spent the last several days caring for a dear friend and her family who have experienced great loss...Sweet, baby Livi went to be with the Lord after battling a rare form of Leukemia for more than a year. She was only 2 years old. Those 2 years went quickly, but they are filled with many wonderful memories of precious, fun times spent with her family and friends.

Only hours after Livi passed, I was hugging and crying with her mom in the kitchen of their home. Over the course of the weekend, I listened to many stories about Livi that brought both laughter and tears. I helped Emily go through her clothing, watched her bravely enter Livi's brand new room for the first time which her dad sacrificially prepared for her while she was in the hospital. I read Emily's drafted obituary for her daughter and corrected a misspelled word (What are friends for? Ironically, it was the word "friend" that was misspelled.)

I did some laundry, organized some shoes, brought some food and tissues. I drank some wine and cleaned some dishes. I met some of Emily's friends for the first time and re-acquainted myself with some of her extended family whom I have met in the past. I sat in silence. I also wept. I laughed and listened. I gave permission to be yelled at, kicked out, have things thrown at me or whatever. I just wanted to be there.

Some might find it difficult or uncomfortable to be around those who are grieving the death of a loved one, but I found it more difficult to not be there. I was reminded while there all weekend of the verse in Ecclesiastes 7:2, It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. I wanted to be near my dear friend and her family who are also so dear to my heart. I have to consider how much more God is desiring to be near to all of them right now; He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I spent time in Emily and James' home. I was also at the funeral home and the church where Livi was memorialized. In all those places, at various moments everything in me wanted to stand up and scream, "THIS ISN'T RIGHT! THIS SHOULDN'T BE HAPPENING." I can only imagine how much more Emily and James are feeling that right now. I know that death was not in God's original design. I know He created us to live forever. And while we still do live forever either in Heaven or Hell, we have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death. It feels permanent even though the separation is only temporary. And while we give thanks that one day we will see Livi again and we will be reunited, that temporary separation is so very painful. It leaves us with an ache in our bones almost and an empty feeling in Emily's arms. She wants to hold her baby. She wants to see her laugh again. She wants to care for her, plan for her days, love and cherish all the milestones. I want this for her, too.

At the same time I wanted to scream, I was praying all the while one prayer for myself, for Emily, James and their families. I was and am praying that somehow we will all love God MORE for this and even because of this. It is a prayer of faith because I cannot see how that can happen. I only know of God's power to redeem, to cause us to draw near to Him, to cause us to persevere in Him and to love Him more fully. Somehow, through the most tragic of life's circumstances, we come to know God and love God more deeply. Sometimes, the path that takes us to this place is quite circuitous, winding through bitterness, anger and despair before we come to the love, faith and hope. But, we get there. Why? Only because of God's faithfulness to His own, because of His relentless committment to our good, ultimately because of His unswerving, never faltering love for us.

What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Even in the death of a very loved little girl, God is being mindful of us and not just mindful, but good. I know this even though I can't see how.


jessi said...

Oh, Bri, I cannot even begin to imagine the depths of sorrow. My heart aches even reading your words. The closest thing I've known was the sudden death of my dad, but I know that would not begin to compare to the loss of a precious child. I will pray...can't even say what exactly I will pray, and it's one of those times I am thankful the Spirit can even interpret our inner groanings when we have no words.

Kristin said...

This brought me to tears. I think you so elequontly wrote that which most people can never put into words. I will join you in praying that all involved will grow to love God more because of this. What a bold prayer.

FishMama said...

Thanks, Briana, for such wisdom in going to God and directing us there, too. All weekend I thought of Emily and all the "motions" she had to go through, going home, etc. I am SO glad you were there. Thank you for being such a beautiful example of friendship and love.

FishMama said...

Just a few minutes after I clicked off here, I went to bathe the baby and found myself singing this song. You know it, I'm sure. It may have been sung this weekend. But, I hope it will encourage you. May it be that blessings break over the Hs' heads and over yours!

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform
He plants His footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm
Deep in His dark and hidden mines
With never-failing skill
He fashions all His bright designs
And works His sovereign will

So God we trust in You
O God we trust in You

O fearful saints new courage take
The clouds that you now dread
Are big with mercy and will break
In blessings on your head
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense
But trust Him for His grace
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face

So God we trust in You
O God we trust in You
When tears are great
And comforts few
We hope in mercies ever new
We trust in You

God’s purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding every hour
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flower
Blind unbelief is sure to err
And scan His work in vain
God is His own interpreter
And He will make it plain

Zoanna said...

Poignant, eloquent, true. This post should be published. You have offered practical ways to mourn with those who mourn, without sugar-coating the awfulness of the reason why you're there. I can't think of a better way to be a freind. I mean friend! :)

Danielle said...

"God is being mindful of us and not just mindful, but good. I know this even though I can't see how."

You wrote a beautiful post. I so identify with your thoughts in regards to my own "tragic" circumstances, and have often thought that death would have been easier to bear than the circumstances that have been given to my family, although I'm sure it's sinful to think so. There is certainly much to experience in our life where we won't see good--maybe never in this lifetime. But I've learned to love God more because of it.

Shannon Eder said...

Thank you for what you wrote and for being a great example of being a friend. I was able to go to the viewing Sunday with my husband and then the memorial with Audrey. I can't even imagine what they are going through, but you have helped me to know how to pray for them more specifically. I am sure your care to them means more than you could know. Thanks again for writing this. Dear Lord give them strength and comfort! God Bless, Shannon Eder

Anonymous said...

I am so blessed to be able to call you "friend". I miss you & am sad that our paths did not cross this past weekend. Start looking at dates in August to meet up to visit Emily. I really want to spend some time with her. My brother is also officially in Harrisburg now too. Call me. Love you.

Audrey said...

Thanks for being such a wonderful friend to Emily. What a blessing it was for her to have you there to cry with and to care for her in this hardest of times. Thanks for your godly example and for how you are pressing into the Lord and trusting His goodness as you watch your dear friends suffer.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree, I cannot see it either....yet we know God's word to be fact, He is His Word, what else in this world do we have but that? Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for coming....I found great solace in your presence. I have wanted to call almost every day since then and say "come back"....yet, I know that only God can comfort us. You are quite wise, young one, and you did the best thing. Again, thank you! Love, Gigi

staceyhoff said...

thank you for all you have said; I'm glad that you write when you put yourself back at the foot of the cross. Then we all get to benefit from your thoughts too :)
I have known, and cherish, the scripture you wrote about.